These days, extravagant public displays of wealth are supposed to be frowned upon, but the recession is allegedly maybe over, so at this point, anything goes! Case in point: The epic Founders' Dinner at an "undisclosed location" in Carmel, CA the night before last week's Pebble Beach Food & Wine event where each participant paid $2,000 and had to bring a pre-approved magnum of vintage wine. Surely wealthy oenophiles wouldn't risk being burned alive by public opinion by inviting the media to such an opulent event?
Well, yes, invite the media they did. While the local NBC station may have enthusiastically covered it (see the full video below), Time magazine's Joel Stein was less kind in his write up, describing what he had witnessed as "the Eyes Wide Shut equivalent of dining" or, better yet, "horrifying extravagance." Safe to say that he probably won't be invited back. The highlights from Stein's article:
· 27 people chauffeured in eight Lexus 580s escorted by police motorcade which allowed them to "run all the red lights."
· Chefs Thomas Keller and Walter Manzke in the kitchen alongside pastry chef Angela Pinkerton of New York City's Eleven Madison Park. "Keller was bringing out some of the best dishes ever made, but no one cared," wrote Stein.
· Participants had to bring a pre-approved magnum of wine from their collections "worth between $5,000 and $30,000."
· On the menu, like "baseball cards," names were listed next to the wines.
· According to Stein, "this wasn't a snob event. This was a dude event that just happened to be filled with snobs... As these guys ate Iranian Osetra caviar on toast points and drank five different years of Henri Jayer Burgundy, they made fun of one another's penis size."
· And finally, "Around 1 a.m., a sommelier brought out a six-pack of Stella Artois, which was, shockingly, embraced."
Event co-founder David Bernahl tried to make the argument that the Pebble Beach Food & Wine has a charitable side to it, telling the Monterey Herald that the event "has donated $200,000 to charity over its first two years," which is interesting! If only because nearly $300,000 worth of wine was consumed in a single night at the Founders' Dinner. Rich people are still rich, and indeed, they have to spend their money somewhere.
Video: Local NBC Report
· Let Me Eat Cake: A Night of Culinary Luxury [Time]
· Pebble Beach buzzing as Food & Wine nears [Monterey Herald]
· All Pebble Beach Food & Wine coverage on Eater [-ENA-]